Virginia Senate Passes Bill on Restricting the Use of Campaign Funds for Personal Expenses

The House of Representatives withdrew a similar broader bill earlier in the General Assembly session, making it unlikely that it would be signed.

Virginia Governor Winsham Earl-Sears (right) presides over the Senate in the Capitol on Monday, January 17, 2022, in Richmond, Virginia (AP Photo / Steve Helber)

RICHMAND, Virginia (WRIC) – A bill to restrict how Virginia candidates use campaign contributions on personal matters has almost received unanimous support in the state Senate.

Legislation still allows lawmakers and candidates to spend campaign money on childcare, money and clothing. If this is passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Glen Yangkin, the State Electoral Council and the Attorney General of Virginia will weigh the permitted personal use of donations.

State Senator John Bell (D-Loudoun), the sponsor of the measure, said before the 37-3 vote on Tuesday that only those who contributed or voted for the candidate would be able to file a complaint about the use of money for the campaign.

The State Electoral Council can impose a $ 1,000 fine on a candidate if he knowingly violates the rule. The legislator or candidate would also have to return the amount of the donation.

“We need to have something that says we keep people to higher standards when they hold public office,” Senator Bell said. “And they should serve for the benefit of the people, not for enrichment.”

Calls to revise Virginia’s campaign finance laws are growing, but little has been done to advance change. A similar bill was rejected by a subcommittee in the House of Delegates, and attempts to stop political donations by utilities were thwarted.

The Commonwealth has no contribution limits for political action committees, corporations, or individuals who make donations to candidates. Virginia also allows party committees to donate unlimited amounts of money to the campaign.

The state legislature has set up a new group called the Joint Subcommittee to Study Comprehensive Campaign Funding Reform to examine the issue and consider possible recommendations for changing the legislation.

Stay tuned to 8News for updates.

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